With the current state of the economy, saving money is increasingly important to family, couples, and even individuals. That does not mean that you have to sacrifice your vacation, however. There are a number of online travel agencies that are offering discounts and low-cost vacations to people who may think they can’t afford to travel. In actuality, if you do your research, you can take a vacation even on a shoestring budget. Here are some tips to help you find a great travel deal from an online travel agency.

Be Sure to Ask for a discount

As the saying goes, “ask and ye shall receive” right? Actually, this tip really does work, whether you are working with an online store or brick and mortar travel agency. Plan the vacation of your dreams, and when you see the bottom line, ask how the price can be dropped. If you start with a very low budget, some agencies may not include some of the best features of a vacation, but by starting high and THEN looking for discounts, you might be able to get more bang for your buck.

Tip #2: Plan a group vacation yourself.

If you really want to save money, get a group of people together to go on vacation and plan the trip for everyone using and online travel agency. Many companies have a policy that if you’re the contact person for the entire group and ensure that everyone pays on time, you get your vacation for free, or at least get a very deep discount. Planning a vacation like this has a lot of moving pieces to keep track of, but can be a great way to travel on a budget.

Tip #3: Look for coupon codes.

When you’re planning a trip with an online company, you can often find coupon codes or deals to use to get a percentage off your trip. If you’ve worked with a company in the past, you’ll likely get rebates via email from time to time. If you haven’t, though, you can still get a discount. Simply use your favorite search engine to look for the name of your travel agency and the word “coupon” or “discount.” There are sites all over the Internet that specialize in collecting codes for discounts for different companies.

Keep in mind that you should always be wary of discounts you can only get after giving your credit card information to a third party. You may be signing up for a membership that bills your credit card automatically.

Tip #4: Book your vacation during a discount period.

Most major travel companies online have slow seasons when there are fewer people booking trips. If you book your trip during this time, you could save a substantial amount of money. Everyone books trips in the summer and around the holidays, but fewer people are traveling at other times of the year.

Tip #5: Look for packages instead of building your own vacation.

When you shell out money for a vacation, you want it to be perfect. Though, if you can choose a vacation package rather than trying to create your own, you can spend a lot less money. Online travel agencies often have dozens or even hundreds of packages from which to choose. They are able to offer discounts because they get a deal from the airlines, cruise companies, restaurants, amusements parks, etc. when they book a certain number of vacations per month or per year. They pass that savings on to the consumer when they can, attempting to entice even more people to book trips.

Tip #6: Plan your trip in advance.

Last minute vacations always cost a lot more than trips that are planned months or years in advance. Although it may not be possible for you to know what you are doing three years from now, as soon as you are sure about your travel dates, make your reservation. You can save a lot of money, especially on vacation packages.

Tip #7: Look for a free vacation.

Some online travel agencies have offer different kinds of opportunities to travel. These “vacations” are more like education experiences, though, and you most likely will not find a relaxing beach in your future if you want to travel for free. Free vacations will take you to places like nature reserves, ranches, and farms, where you’ll do work in exchange for room and board. You will also probably still have to pay for your flight and a rental car. This can be a neat opportunity to see another part of the world, though, and to experience how other people live.

No matter what your price range, you can take a vacation. By using online travel agencies, there are a number of discounts available that make vacationing affordable.